In honour of Waterloo's 60th anniversary, the Alumni Council selected 10 outstanding alumni to be recognized for their commitment to the University of Waterloo, building on the legacy of the University of Waterloo 50th Anniversary Alumni Awards recipients.
Learn more about our award recipients and how they have impacted the University of Waterloo in our special feature of the Winter 2017 magazine.
Artists statement - Paul Roorda (BA '88)
Turning to Gold
Beginning with pages of an encyclopedia published in 1957, the same year the University of Waterloo was established, I used red and black paper, as well as a gold leaf, to create 60 square parcels to mark the 60th anniversary of the University. Each parcel, containing the University colours, and a partially visible encyclopedia image, represents a year of turning a previous wealth of knowledge into the “gold” of innovation, discovery, and the advancement of the community and world of which we are a part.
Turning to Gold also refers to the ancient art of alchemy: turning the common metal of lead into gold. The title suggests the way the University and its alumni have taken the knowledge of the past and present, and have strived for and achieved excellence in their fields of study: in the art, the aging encyclopedia pages are turned; folded over to reveal the gold of present and future achievement. The gold leaf, a precious metal, resisting tarnish, is of lasting substance. The images and text represent everything from data analysis to theatre, from the microscopic to the universal, from health science to history, from religion to mathematics, from sociology to natural sciences, and from engineering to fine arts. The images signify the foundation of knowledge, as the gold leaf gilds the innovation built upon it.
In addition, the art contains 10 scrolls of the same material, to mark the 10 most recent alumni to receive the alumni award since Waterloo’s 50thanniversary. Tied in white and black thread, the red, white, black, and gold of the scrolls references the colours of the university logo, and are reminiscent of graduation diplomas.